There’s been quite a bit of hype about the metaverse — it’s the next big thing, it will transform how companies engage with customers and it will alter the way we do business. The metaverse simply integrates the physical and digital worlds, enhancing both through virtual worlds or simple contextual overlays. While companies currently interact with customers via multiple channels — mobile devices, desktop computers, email, social media and chatbots — leveraging the metaverse helps companies create immersive and interactive retail experiences for customers.
What those advanced interactive features will look like is still under development. What we do know, according to IDC analyst Ramon Llamas, is that they’ll be available across devices. “That includes via VR/AR glasses, smartphones, tablets and PCs, chat rooms with video, but also probably via up-and-coming things like holograms, digital signage, digital assets and digital content.”
The metaverse creates compelling opportunities for the retail industry to engage with customers. While much remains unknown, to reap the benefits that the metaverse offers and to strengthen relationships with customers, companies should focus on these three primary areas.
1. Create superior customer experiences.
The metaverse promises businesses many new opportunities to expand their existing customer channels via VR/AR, virtual worlds, holograms, digital assets and more. Creating new channels to connect with customers — channels that promote two-way engagement — is critical.
Companies should think outside the box to stretch the boundaries of conventional thinking about customer engagement and create better customer experiences. As David Truog, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, points out, “The world is a 3D place — or 4D if you include time. It’s not a 2D experience, and in fact, 2D experiences feel artificial. Many experiences benefit from three-dimensionality, from touching and manipulation, where the metaverse will be appropriate.”
2. Develop personalized, immersive experiences.
Customers appreciate a wide range of channels for interacting with businesses, and they increasingly expect these interactions to be personalized and immersive, particularly in retail. For companies to engage customers, new strategies must be considered to increase revenue.
For example, we worked with Givenchy Parfums, a fashion and cosmetics company, to find a way to increase customer engagement. They joined with Nintendo to help customers build their own avatars using virtual makeup. By allowing users to assume the same avatar, wear the same virtual lipstick and occupy the same digital property in multiple brands’ proprietary platforms, they were able to engage customers in a unique way.
3. Focus on building trust.
To overcome safety and privacy issues, companies must first tackle security and identity management challenges to build trust in their metaverse interactions. A 2021 report found that more than half (52%) of adult social media users consider a platform’s privacy and data policies an “extremely impactful” part of the decision to interact with ads or sponsored content.
Building the level of trust needed to secure customer loyalty requires technical expertise in encryption, identity management, access management and the capability to communicate these policies to customers. Doing so will build trust, which leads to increased engagement.
What the Future Holds
While projections about the metaverse predict unlimited opportunities and customer engagement, much is yet unknown. Now is the time for companies to invest resources in the metaverse to find, develop and provide the most engaging customer environments. Expanding the boundaries of creativity will only lead us to a more promising, digitally-enhanced future.
Sidharth Mukherjee is the Chief Digital Officer at Teleperformance.